These days a living legend of trick and visual conjuring was passing through Madrid. Master when it comes to deciphering and staging the penetrating certainties that sibyllins hide behind every façade, if you came across a young nonagenarian with a Venezuelan accent, a bearded man and very friendly in dealing, pay attention to what your senses communicate to the Reason: it was Carlos Cruz-Díez, an outstanding representative of the op art and of the kinetic art, good-natured theoretical of the elusive appearance settled in Paris for half a century. The visit to a country for which he vehemently declares to profess “enormous affection and admiration” was in response to the delivery of the Penagos Drawing Prize, awarded by the Mapfre Foundation to recognize the efforts of a career dedicated to the care and attention of the mother of all. the arts. Something that, soon, would seem like a contradiction to a chiseled trajectory based on the systematic repetition of fluctuating stripes and colors, concretized in paintings or sculptures that, with the care and patience necessary to cultivate all obsession, have placed him in an outstanding page of all art manuals in the 20th century.
As he immediately sets out to recall, long before those tireless studies and projects on the hues and forms that they keep within, in the effervescence of vital beginnings marked as far as memory reaches by the disturbed sanity of the creative genius, there were Much of that “which today is called design and that we used to call illustration”, has a kind and placid touch. With his initiation works in novels or comic strips, Cruz-Díez (Caracas, 1923), who never wanted to be neither more nor less than what is recognized, artist, already adopted the line as a tool and means of reflection decades ago. “How many lines have I made!” He exclaims, amused. Having long ago reached the rank of thaumaturge of the sensual and the illusory, the creator knows well the importance of drawing, which he places as a synonym for “knowing how to see”. “My work is about vision, about things that are present and that people don’t see,” he explains. “What I’m looking for is for people to see beyond.”
Many times he has pointed out that his is an art imbued in the spirit of his time. That a walk through Arco just a few weeks ago allowed him to see several of his works dated 30 or 40 years ago does not mean for him that the clocks of contemporary art have stopped. On the contrary, he feels that society has finally synchronized with his illuminations, which have come to him in advance of his contemporaries. “I think I have lived a society of the blind,” he meditates. “I have been fighting against color as a certainty, because in reality it is a circumstance, something that changes.” At this point, adventure, his convictions have been revealed in evidence. “Color is the perfection of an instant, and now I have the pleasure that it finally begins to be understood.”
The same Madrid for which he has been noted currently collects a sample of his research findings, pieces that are part of the collective exhibition The concrete invention, in the Reina Sofía, review of the landmarks collected in the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection of the particular abstraction generated by Latin America in the second half of the last century. “There is an idea in the collective unconscious that art is a painting hung in a museum, but art is life,” he says. Hence, its most relevant contributions are not found in this or any other institution, but in streets, boulevards or gardens, always in dialogue with the architecture and urban planning that surround them. “The foundation for the invention of art is space: the work has to be a living entity, and in order to perceive it one has to move.”
A great exponent of a whole generation of Latin American artists, Cruz-Díez has always demonstrated a special ability to overcome the fences that delimit borders. “As happened with the Boom in literature, until then the world had not looked back to that continent,” he says. “But art is part of man, it is the human condition itself: the true knowledge that comes to us from perception and that we mythologize.” That is why, even in these times where the range of colors seems to have faded into gray, it will continue to maintain its indispensable character. “It is something that has always been there, and this is so for a simple reason: what is not needed does not exist.”